Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Olibanum at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The fumes of frankincense reached out to the square before the church, and impregnate the walls and the rocks within. My soul is instantly hypnotized by the smoke – thick yet pure. Despite its richness, inhaling olibanum smoke feels like clearing your lungs. It is known for its powerful influence and its ability to assist in reaching a meditative state of mind. It immediately connects to one’s soul, startling at first like a reminder of one’s deeper self and aspiration, yet soothing, deep and powerfully transformative in a strangely balanced way. I almost got lost forever between the chants of the Koptic priests and the Latin hymns of the Catholic monks accompanied by the dramatic multitude of organ.

Although the Jewish people followed the footsteps of the Egyptians in the art of using incense for holy rituals and communions with God, ever since the ruin of the second temple, most incense burning practices were abandoned. Qetoret, the holy incense of the temple was composed of resins and spices, including olibanum, myrrh, balsam, onycha, cassia, saffron, costus, cinnamon and other aromatic barks. It is strictly forbidden from any other use but inside the temple. Therefore, synagogues are for the most part deprived from the extreme psycho-spiritual satisfaction that results from prolonged inhalation of olibanum fumes or any other incense in most Jewish communities (left for the scent of citron and myrtle in Sukkot and sprigs of fresh herbs that may be used for blessing on Sabbath in some cultures).

Frankincense oil does not have the same powdery, desert-dust-like quality of the resin tears. Rather, it is balsamic, fresh, with some citrus reminiscence. But recently I came across a CO2 extraction of wild frankincense that is rich and intensely similar to the incense. I am very curious to see how much of those qualities will remain after including this oil in a formula. If I am to succeed, I will be lost forever between the chants of the Koptic priests and the Latin hymns of the Catholic monks accompanied by the dramatic multitude of organ.

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1 Comments:

At May 27, 2012 7:06 PM, Blogger Chin Sink said...

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